Education in 2019: Digital delivery will take centre stage

Published: December 31, 2018 12:57 AM

We’ll witness an accelerated shift towards blended, concept-based learning.

India’s higher education sector will emerge as the single-largest provider of global talent by 2030, with one in four graduates being from India.

By Vikas Singh

India holds an advantageous position on the global map. Not only does it enjoy a favourable demographic dividend with the largest population in the age group of 15-24 years, but it was also ranked 27th out of 80 countries on the global English Proficiency Index 2017. This substantial English-speaking population makes India an attractive market for new, advanced educational products. The country already holds a prestigious rank in the quality of higher education in the world. However, there is still a long way to go, particularly if we look at education delivery in schools, where institutions are only beginning to accept and adopt blended learning.

The year 2018 witnessed rising digital influence in education. After the US, India emerged as the second-largest market for e-learning. The market size is projected to touch $1.96 billion, buoyed by 9.5 million users by 2021. The expanding mobile and data network is playing a major role in the growth of distance education, focused on training and skill development. Edtech and blended digital learning are transforming both higher and K12 sector.

This implies that 2019 will witness an accelerated shift towards blended concept-based learning—moving away from the traditional rote learning. More emphasis would be on the application of knowledge and the development of core skills, to prepare students for eventually joining the workforce. This goes beyond textbooks and involves group discussions, problem-solving and research-based assignments. Without exhaustive libraries in all schools, online learning tools and resources will be the need of the hour. Some proponents contest that given the future favouring the tech-savvy, schoolchildren should be introduced to digital media at an early age.

The recent Union government directive to reduce homework for school students and the weight of school bags are some steps in this direction. However, an effective solution that will ensure to also deliver these objectives would be to introduce digital curriculum and content in schools. A few state governments have gone a step further and launched online educational resources (OER) on portals with thousands of web resources.

The allocation for school education under Union Budget 2018-19 increased by 14% and focused on strengthening existing initiatives and refining quality. This allocation is expected to rise year-on-year, and it is estimated India’s higher education sector will emerge as world’s single-largest provider of global talent by 2030, with one in four graduates from India.
Thus, with renewed focus on quality education, with technology as the pivot, the education sector in India is set to make several major positive changes in the years to come. In addition, the rise in digital technologies will bring new innovations, and reduce gaps in delivery of education. As the leading educator George Couros said, “Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of a great teacher can be transformational.”

(The author is MD, Pearson India)

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